Our Choir

The Choir

Meet our hard-working team of Overgate Hospice Choir chief committee officers and the talented musicians who lead our choir.

Choir Musicians

James Savage Hanford

James Savage-Hanford

Music Director

James enjoys a varied career as a singer, musicologist, conductor, and teacher. He read Music at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (where he was a choral exhibitioner), and studied for a Masters and PhD in Musicology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Prior to doctoral study, he also undertook postgraduate training in vocal performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

As an ensemble singer, James has performed throughout the UK and across Europe with renowned groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music, the Armonico Consort, the BBC Singers, the English Concert, the Hanover Band and Sonoro, and in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Hall, St John’s Smith Square, the Aldeburgh Festival, the St Magnus Festival Kirkwall, the St Gallen Festival Switzerland, NOSPR Katowice, and the Philharmonie Essen.

As a concert soloist, James has performed much of the standard oratorio repertoire. Highlights include a performance of Mozart’s Requiem with the Brandenburg Sinfonia at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London; a programme of works by Monteverdi (including excerpts from the 1610 Vespers) and his contemporaries alongside the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble at Lancaster Priory; and Haydn’s The Creation at Southwell Minster. On the operatic stage, he made his international debut as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra at the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn.

Increasingly in demand as a musical director, James has conducted Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea (in his own piano trio arrangement) and Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement in a double bill performance for Bute Park Opera, and has assisted on projects for the Cardiff-based Early Music ensemble Sforza, including as Chorus Master for a concert performance of Handel’s Semele.

In January 2023 he took over as Musical Director of Overgate Hospice Choir, and since September he has also been the MD of Cantores Olicanae, Ilkley. He is a former Musical Director of the Coleridge Choir (now fully amalgamated as part of Cambridgeshire Choral Society) and has worked with numerous youth and adult community choirs throughout Hertfordshire.

For more information, visit his website www.jamessavagehanford.com or follow him on Twitter @savagehanford.

Alan Horsey

Alan Horsey


Alan Horsey is the Accompanist to the Leeds Philharmonic Choir and the Overgate Hospice Choir in Halifax. He has enjoyed a long association with the Leeds Methodist Choir and the St Peter’s Singers of Leeds, the Sheffield Bach Society, Doncaster Choral Society and the Bradford Festival Choral Society. From 1996 until 2015 he was the Conductor of Ilkley and Otley Choral Societies.

As an orchestral organist and harpsichordist he has appeared with the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic, RLPO, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Airedale Symphony and the Manchester Camerata. He appears regularly with the Manchester Concert Orchestra specialising in celeste, synthesiser, piano and organ.

Alan is married to Elisabeth, a music teacher, and they have two children – Alice and Edward. Alan’s leisure interests include gardening and domestic poultry.

Chief Officers

Carol Armitage

Carol Armitage


Born in Huddersfield, Carol has lived for the last forty years in Brighouse. She is married to David and they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2020. They have two children Charles who is married to Rachael with a son Davey and they live in Atlanta USA and Joanne who lives locally is married to Rich and they have a daughter Rosa.

Having trained at The North of England Secretarial College, Leeds, Carol worked in a secretarial role at Taylor Mills Ltd and then Kosset Carpets before having her family.

She has been a volunteer in various roles at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary since joining The League of Friends of the Huddersfield Hospitals in 1983 and becoming Chairman for ten years in 1998. She volunteered on the Greenlea Oncology Unit since it opened in 1996 when she recruited a team of twenty volunteers to help on a rota basis but has retired this year.

Carol has enjoyed singing since her early schooldays and joined the school choir at Brentwood School, Southport. She had a break from singing for a long time before joining Honley Ladies Choir conducted by Catherine Williams where she also became Chairman for five years.

Interests are the theatre, cinema, travel, playing tennis (until three years ago) and yoga. Although she has no dogs now, for many years had Dalmatian dogs and bred a litter of puppies from one of them.

Carol is a soprano and has been a member of Overgate Hospice Choir since 2008.  She decided to become a member having attended two of the Choir’s concerts because the idea of doing something she really enjoyed along with raising funds for the Hospice seemed a great combination.  She always looks forward to rehearsals and performing a variety of concerts together and appreciates the great camaraderie within the Choir.

Lesley Handerson

Lesley Henderson

Choir Secretary

Lesley was born in Edinburgh but has lived in Halifax for the last forty-nine years. She is married to Ian, whom she met through singing and they have been married for fifty years

Lesley worked in various jobs some of which were voluntary and then, having completed an Open University degree went on to attend Manchester Metropolitan University to complete a BSc degree in Speech Pathology and Therapy. She then worked for nineteen years in the Speech and Language Therapy department of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust.

Lesley’s interest in music was fostered from a very early age by her parents. In particular their interest was the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan and where other families played ‘I spy’ on long car journeys, Lesley was encouraged to ‘Name that tune’ from the operas. She went on to help backstage at Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan productions and then when old enough joined the chorus.

Later, she was a member of local G and S societies in West Yorkshire performing some of the mezzo and alto roles and also undertaking some administrative roles. Her final role was to jointly direct, with Ian, some of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas locally.

Lesley also sang with a group of four friends performing concerts for local care homes and church groups and was a member of The Pennine Singers, a ladies choir in Huddersfield.

Lesley’s interests include theatre, travel, running, walking and reading.

Lesley joined The Overgate Hospice Choir in 2012 and enjoys the variety of music the choir performs with the added bonus of raising money for the Overgate Hospice.

Sue Rosborough

Sue Rosborough


I joined Overgate Hospice Choir in 2013 and have undertaken the role of Treasurer since 2018. I’ve been a singer all my life and am a firm believer in the power of music to improve people’s lives.  Our family are all singers – we know it’s good for us physically, mentally and socially. The Overgate singers are a friendly bunch, all joined through the common aim of raising funds for the Hospice through singing.

I formed Halifax Young Singers in 1992 and continued in the role of Administrator until 2013. During this time I saw the impact of group music-making on hundreds of young people, and took the choir to Aachen on several occasions, including a magical trip in 1999 when HYS represented Halifax when Tony Blair was awarded the Charlemagne Prize.

My first concert with Overgate Hospice Choir was Elijah and this took me back 30 years to 1983 when, as a student in Leeds, I performed Elijah with Simon Lindley as conductor. 

Overgate Hospice holds a special place in my heart for the care it has given to friends who have spent their last days there, and to their families. The support and care provided is immeasurable. It is a privilege to sing for Overgate and to undertake the Treasurer’s role, sending as much financial support as we can to Overgate through our concerts. Naturally I encourage my family to help and our daughters are never shy in their role with collection buckets for Overgate funds at the end of concerts. 

Joyce Sharp

Joyce Sharp

Membership Secretary

For the last twenty years Overgate Hospice Choir has been an important part of my life.  I joined in 2000 and have only missed singing in two concerts since then.  The first concert I sang in was Haydn’s Creation and this is still one of my favourites.  I have also sung Carols in the Piece Hall and taken part in Light up a Life in the Hospice garden.  Singing in the choir has introduced me to so much new music that I might not otherwise have encountered.

I have always been involved with music in some form or other, either singing in different choirs, playing the piano since I was a child, or learning other musical instruments. I studied music and piano with the late Harold Watkins Shaw and have sung his version of Messiah on several occasions.  

For thirteen years I was Choir Treasurer and was proud to be part of our Silver Jubilee celebrations when we had raised an amazing £300,000 for the Hospice.  Now, as Membership Secretary, I am happy to support the really worthwhile cause of fundraising for Overgate Hospice whilst enjoying myself singing and meeting many other like-minded friends.